Education, New Beginnings, Personal

I am About To Be a Teacher

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

This is what I keep saying to myself over and over until I believe it. I’ve done the training and have all the advice and resource to have a theoretically great start. It’s quite a leap for someone who gets social anxiety and recharges her energy at home alone to go from an office job with social interactions being limited to a few friendly coworkers, to a classroom where she’ll have to guide and interact with over a hundred students on a daily basis.

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

So far, it’s been a lot of fun, actually. I’m a very analytical person and I LOVE organizing. This means that I am really enjoying all the planning and learning that goes into my first year. It’s fun to me to put together my classroom management plan, my lesson plans, and organizing all the resources that I think I will find helpful as I continue to create said management plan and lesson plans. I even got a tablet for my birthday so I can organize all my school stuff on it and play around with apps that I could have my students use in the classroom as part of their learning activities. I’m even enjoying researching more resources and reading them. I still haven’t a clue how I want to set up my classroom, but there are lots of articles with information and advice on it that I am more than happy to read.

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

Occasionally I’ll think about the fact that one day soon I will be presenting my management plan and my lesson plans to actual students, and that is terrifying. Kids are intimidating, no matter what age. At least to me. Adults are intimidating too. Big dogs running towards me with a big grin? The only reason I flinch is because I hate the slobber. But I’ll take that over talking in front of 30 teenagers. I suppose, if I really think about it, teenagers are a lot less intimidating than adults. Yes, some of them act like tough bullies, but as adults we all know there’s most likely a scared kitten just beneath the surface, and kittens are not intimidating. Part of my training was how to handle major behavior problems and students with any kind of mental disorder like ADHD or anxiety. I know many accommodations that I can put into place for all kinds of different students. It’s just a matter of figuring out what student needs what and putting it into place. And I’m good at puzzles. Being good at organization will also help with this area. And it’s not like I’ve never taught a class before. At least high schoolers are easier to deal with than middle schoolers, which is what I want to eventually teach because they need the most help, but that’s way too much intimidation too early.

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

The more I say it, the more real it becomes. It brings down my excitement level so I can get back into reality, but it also brings down my anxiety level so I can realize I actually do have the tools and the ability to succeed at this. Yes, teenagers still seem intimidating, but if I can keep in mind that they are still kids who just need help and guidance in life, then I think I can handle it. After all, helping others to help themselves is the reason I wanted to switch from engineer to teacher. My job is to give them the tools, resources, and guidance they need to learn to succeed. And that is something in which I feel confident I can do.

I am a high school chemistry teacher.

Education, New Beginnings, Personal

Learning to Swim by Falling in the Ocean

Woops. I recently left the engineering field to pursue a career in teaching and I had my first substituting job the other day. Wow was it awful. It was for a 6th grade class at a school known for disciplinary issues, but I didn’t know to check for that. I just took an available job. That was a mistake. I could tell I might have made a mistake when the instructions from the teacher included three different things to do in case of a problem student and ended with “good luck :)”. “Good luck” is so not a good sign. I did have problems. I could barely get homeroom under control enough to call role, and I lost my entire class at lunch. Yes, lost them. They all eventually ended up back in the classroom, but still. Luckily, a co-teacher came in and started writing lunch detentions left and right and was able to somewhat control the classroom. I was at a complete loss at how to handle something like that. The students ran around and hollered like 4 year olds and did not listen to me at all. It was….a little shocking. And it certainly made me question going down this route. But at least it can only go uphill from here, I hope.

New Beginnings, Personal

New Town, New Apartment. What About New Friends?

After college I moved to the place where I got a job – the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I love it. Because of casinos and the proximity to New Orleans, there are big city perks without having to be in a big city. For example, we have an ample amount of good radio stations. Most towns have maybe one or two good stations and a few mediocre stations, so I like this part about living here. My new apartment is less than a 5 minute drive and less than a 10 minute bike ride to work, 10 minutes to the grocery store, 10-15 minutes from a nice movie theater, pool hall, laser tag, and bowling ally, and 15 minutes from the ocean (all driving times). However, the distance to friends is much further.

As it turned out, I had two friends living in the area who are dating (and have been for about 3 years now) and who badly wanted to move out of the guy’s parents’ cottage. I met them in college and didn’t know them very well, but I liked them a lot and had us all fill out a roommate survey and liked the responses. So, we found this two bedroom apartment and moved in together. I could rant on and on about problems with the guy, but I’m just going to leave it at things are not working out well. I love living with the girl, but not her boyfriend. I’m not even sure they’re going to last too much longer. If they do, he is going to have to change.

Anyway, back to the topic of friends. I’m not a church-goer, which seems to be the main way people make friends in the Bible Belt. I don’t like meeting people at bars, because it seems like most people that go to bars, go to bars a lot and want to party a lot. Granted, my main bar experiences were in a college town, so what do I know. Still. So making friends has been though. Specifically making friends that have enough extra cash to go to the bar or pool hall or casino with me. Yes, I like hanging out at the pool or going for a walk on the beach or playing games at the apartment – which are all free things to do – but I also like to drink beer and play pool. I like to go out and do stuff, but not usually by myself. I have tried meetup.com, but haven’t found a whole lot of groups that really catch my interest there. It doesn’t help that I’m totally socially awkward and have no idea how to turn an acquaintance into a friend unless they instigate it. I did figure out how to volunteer to be a GED tutor (something I have enjoyed doing in the past) and once I hear back from them I’m hoping that will be a way to get out of the apartment twice a week or so and help give back to the community. I love helping people who want to help themselves. I don’t think I could ever be a teacher, but I love tutoring because then you get the students who are really trying and willing to work and study and just really want to learn.

Turns out, one of college friends has a group of gamer friends in my area and he posted on facebook for them to contact me, so I’ve had three new people begin to enter my life. I’m very excited about that and hope to actually hang out with some of them soon. I’m still trying to find ways to meet new people aside from in bars or church and looking for more ways to volunteer. A friend of mine suggested a take a night class in something that interests me from the community college or find a place that offers zumba classes or other aerobics classes that I would be interested in. Not a bad idea.

I did force myself out of my shell and went to a book store and bought a cup of coffee and sat down with some people I had never met and started talking to them. They had a calculus book out so I thought they were students at the local community college. Turns out they were high school students. So, that was kinda sucky because I don’t think it’s socially acceptable for someone in their early 20’s to make friends with high schoolers. Not that I would want friends with high schoolers, I remember high school and I hated most of my peers haha. But, I did get to do something that I enjoy and that was to advice them about college, scholarships, job market for the majors they were interested in, and what I had recently learned about finances. In addition to tutoring, I like mentoring in general. Which is my friend friend also suggested that I look into joining a big brother/ big sister program.

So, I guess one of the things I will do with this blog is share success and failure stories on my journey to find friends, because it’s not always the easiest thing to do – especially when not in school and no a church goer.

Please feel free to share thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc. I’d love to hear them 🙂

Finance, New Beginnings

Beginning Financial Plan

I have no debt. I plan on never having debt. Debt is a silly thing to have, and I don’t want it. And yes, I have a solid plan that will allow me to avoid debt.

First, let me say that I was incredibly fortunate to have money-smart parents with good jobs. I was spoiled growing up, but not super spoiled. My parents taught me a lot about money and discipline and I didn’t get everything I wanted when I wanted it, which was so fantastic. No, I had a lot more than most kids my age in the small town in southern MS, but I could have been way more spoiled. If I wanted something, I had to wait til a holiday or buy it myself with allowance. I have never had a new car – always used. And I didn’t have to buy my first car (thank you, awesome parents). I did not get my own car at 16, but I did at 18 when I went off to college.

I’m going to focus on allowance for a minute because the way they did it was a great way to do it and I model my current budget after it. When my sister and I hit a certain age (I don’t recall that age, sorry), my parents started giving allowance, each week, equal to our age, provided we did our weekly chores. So, when I was 12, I got $12 a week. Now, I couldn’t do just anything I wanted with this allowance. They gave us 4 jars to split up the money and told us how. I don’t remember the exact percentages, but I think these are close. I’ll see about asking if they remember. Donation money was 10% and we got to choose how we gave it away – either at church or do a charity we cared about. Free Spending was 25% and we got to spend that however we wanted. Short term savings was 40% and that was for birthday and Christmas presents. Long term savings was 25% and that wasn’t to be touched until we were grown. They told us it was to help pay for a car or a house one day, and it’s currently still sitting in my savings account in my bank.

Thanks to my parents teaching me about money, I was smart with it from the beginning. I never touched long term savings allowance. When I was in high school and got summer jobs, I saved almost all of it. Every now and then I’d take some and spend it on me, but mostly not because I was still getting free spending allowance. So, with no expenses, I saved. Between saving all my job money and saving my long term savings money, I have just over $5000 in a savings account when I went to college. More summer jobs in college, one the same that I had in high school and one an internship as an engineer, I had $7000 in savings by the end of college. Add $15000 from my grandparents dying on my mom’s and dad’s side (sad), and I was pretty set.

I cannot express how fortunate I was to have such money-smart parents. When I was born, and again when my sister was born, my parents opened up a mutual fund and started putting money in it every month. That was my college fund. So, graduated from college, I had no students loans, I had a good savings account, I had a car that was paid for, and I had a job. Great, great start in life. How do I keep ahead?

Just as I was wondering about money and budgeting and stuff (things I felt I had a good idea on, but wanted to know more about), my cousins gave me a book called “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. Great! So I read it. I now have a solid budget (that I stick to), I have an idea of what I’m going to invest where (working on implementing it), and I have a plan for where every penny of my money goes each month. I don’t use a credit card (I do have a good credit score, thanks to my dad), and I pay for everything either with cash, check, or debit card – in that preferred order.

I have my plan on Excel, so it can easily be modified, and certain budget items are in cash in envelopes with labels. I feel like I’m on a good track to stay debt free, buy a house one day, and retire happily. Once I finish tweaking my budget, I will share.

Please feel free to share thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc. I’d love to hear them 🙂

Engineering, New Beginnings

Beginning Career

So, the reason I wanted to do this blog is because I’m just starting out in life after college. I feel like I’m on a decently successful road and wanted to share some of what I have learned. I also feel a little lost in life, though I’m generally a happy person, so I wanted to put down my thought as I figure things out and if you read my thoughts and have ideas or observations or words of motivation or advice (don’t expect me to follow it, but I’ll always take it into consideration and be thankful you care enough to offer it) or whatever, please, please share. Sometimes others see things I can’t and I like to have these things pointed out to me because it helps me understand myself better. Also, I’m pretty knew in “the real world” so I value the advice or life observations of those who have been at it a while.

Interest. As I went through college, getting my degree in Civil Engineering (with a concentration in Environmental Engineering and a minor in English), my interest veered towered water and waste water treatment. Some of you may think that’s weird. Well, I think an interest in being a doctor is weird, but I sure am glad there are people interested in it. So, yes, water and waste water treatment. I am very interested in the chemistry and biology behind it. I like that there are so many different ways to do it and new ways are still being discovered. I love that there are ways to make energy with the treatment, tho mostly on a small scale. The whole thing is so interesting to me and that’s what I most want to be involved with. Often, I don’t feel smart enough to design them myself, but I really want to try.

Career. I graduated. Somehow. Not the highest GPA, but I got the 3.0 minimum. I applied for job after job and became glad anytime I heard back, even if it was a rejection, because at least I knew. Most of the jobs I really wanted, jobs actually at least somewhat related to my interest, wanted 5-8 years of experience. Yuck. I kept applying and interviewing. In the meantime, I studied for and passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam. I got hired at a small engineering firm in southern MS – on the coast, actually. I like the company, I like where I live, but this isn’t the job I though it was going to be. I knew I wasn’t going to learn to design waste water treatment plants, but I still thought it would be a good job – and it is, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not what I was expecting. I expected get well-rounded experience, but it’s looking like I’m going to be doing mostly project management – the last thing I wanted to do with this degree, by the way. The job started off pretty cool, and I’ve gotten to do neat stuff like climb a water tower, but I’m like the middle man in this project I’m doing and I don’t like it. This firm doesn’t seem to do much designing. They contract out all the work and most of the designing. We have a survey crew, though. Busy days are few and far between, and I love busy days. They make the day go by fast and I feel accomplished at the end of the day. When I spend hours with nothing to do (and I go around and try my best to find something – anything – to do) and have to fluff up my time sheet – I hate it. It makes me tired and I feel unaccomplished at the end of the day and guilty for over charging clients. My plan was going to be to stay here and get PE, then move on. But that doesn’t seem fair to the head of the company, who is teaching me and helping me get my PE, and I don’t think I could stick here for four whole years, anyway. Plus, if I get my PE and I’ve only worked here, I won’t feel like I know enough to have earned my PE. Especially when what I want to do is design treatment plants. I think.

So, I’m a little lost. I don’t know what I want to do, but I know it’s not this. If you read my background, you know I like helping others. I want to do something to help others in the biggest way I can. I think I can best accomplish that with my PE. But maybe I’m wrong.

Please feel free to share thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc. I’d love to hear them 🙂